Safety at College: Do’s and Don’ts

on December 28, 2013

Campus life is, more than anything, a fun time of making new friends and having new experiences. Too often, though, those experiences can involve unsafe circumstances where students become the victims of assault, theft, accident, or fire.

The campus police and the resident assistants in dormitories are there to keep order and to minimize the hazards posed by gathering so many young strangers together, many who are away from home for the first time. But there are many things that the college students themselves can do to limit their risks.

Some of these are obvious, such as locking up your bicycle or locking your dorm room door when you’re gone. Others are suggestions from experts that the student or their parents may not have considered. They include:

• Fire safety – There are an estimated 1,800 fires in dorms every year. And colleges typically will provide a list of approved or unapproved items you can bring to school with you in an effort to reduce those numbers. There are steps you can take in addition, including having a fire extinguisher handy, buying appliances that will shut off automatically, and making sure not to overload electrical outlets.

• Be alert – We’d like to think that the college campus is a place of safety. But, in truth, you should never walk anywhere without a buddy. And pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t be preoccupied with texting or playing games on your smartphone. But do keep your phone on and immediately accessible in case of emergency. When you enter a classroom for the first time, make sure you take note of all emergency exits.

• Limit alcohol – Alcohol is often a part of the college experience. But it also is connected to many campus crimes and acts of violence. So, treat it with respect and know your limitations. And don’t ever leave your drink unattended where it could be doctored with some unwanted drug.

• Be prepared – Colleges are required to keep statistics on the incidences of crime on campus and to make those figures available to the public. Check with your college. Or, if you haven’t selected a college, these figures should be included in your decision making. You may also want to take a self-defense course as an elective, either while you are still in high school or as part of your physical education requirement in college.

• Don’t panic – Being prepared will help you if an emergency does arise by lessening the chance you will panic and do something foolish. Review all the information provided by the campus police or the safety office so you will know how to react appropriately in an emergency.

Attending college is enough of a challenge without opening yourself up to being the victim of a crime or accident. Spending some time to learn how to avoid emergencies is the best way to ensure your safety on campus.


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